Firms settle price-fixing suit
Toshiba Corp agreed to pay US$13.5 million to settle a lawsuit accusing makers of picture tubes used in televisions and computers of fixing prices, lawyers for direct purchasers of the products said in a court filing. Toshiba and other display-tube makers were sued in 2007 in US federal court in San Francisco on claims they operated a cartel from 1995 through 2007 to offset a drop in demand for cathode-ray tubes caused by the introduction of more advanced liquid-crystal and plasma-display technologies, the lawsuit stated. LG Electronics agreed to pay US$25 million to settle the claims, and other manufactures have agreed to settlements ranging from US$10 million to US$17 million, Guido Saveri, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in Friday’s filing.
Commerzbank cuts costs
The head of Germany’s Commerzbank says he is not asking for a bonus after a year of meager profits and no dividend for shareholders. The bank is cutting costs and plans to drop between 4,000 and 6,000 jobs through to 2016. Commerzbank chief executive officer Martin Blessing also gave a downbeat outlook for this year, saying it would be a year of restructuring that would cost “effort, money and time.” Blessing termed profit of only 6 million euros (US$8 million) for last year as “unsatisfactory” and told the board of directors he would not be drawing any performance-related pay. He said other executives on the top management committee would still get 40 percent of their bonuses, while managers lower down would take home more. He cited a “responsibility pyramid” in saying those with more authority should make a bigger sacrifice. His base pay for last year was 1.3 million euros.
McGraw-Hill Cos, the owner of the world’s largest ratings company, was downgraded by its biggest rival after the US government filed a lawsuit that seeks as much as US$5 billion in damages.Moody’s Investors Service cut the debt rating on the New York-based parent of Standard & Poor’s by two levels to “Baa2” from “A3” and said it may reduce the grade again. The new ranking, two steps above speculative grade, takes into account the sale of McGraw-Hill’s education unit and the lawsuit filed on Feb. 4 by the US Department of Justice, Moody’s said on Thursday in a statement after the close of trading in New York. The US government has accuse Standard & Poor’s of deliberately misstating the risks of mortgage bonds, whose collapse helped trigger the credit crisis. McGraw-Hill climbed for a third day, rising 0.2 percent to US$44.95 in New York trading. The stock had lost as much as 27 percent this month, wiping out US$4.4 billion of market value.
Helicopter deal on hold
The defense ministry said on Friday that it has put a US$750 million contract to purchase helicopters from Italian company Finmeccanica on hold amid allegations that bribes were paid to obtain it. The ministry said that a formal notice has been sent to Finmeccanica’s AgustaWestland helicopter division seeking cancellation of the contract. The company has a week to respond to the notice. The contract with AgustaWestland for the purchase of 12 helicopters was signed in February 2010. Three of the helicopters were delivered in December last year. Delhi has launched its own investigation into the 560 million euro deal after the Italian defense and aerospace giant’s chief executive was arrested in Milan on Tuesday on charges that he paid bribes to obtain the contract.